admin by Christine Mettler | 7 Nov 2017
Topics:
Housing Choice,Social Inclusion

Build a co-housing community in the Central Okanagan

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The Central Okanagan is one of the fastest growing communities in B.C. However, housing is increasingly unaffordable for many: younger people, older people, the un- and underemployed–-even for some folks who have steady employment. We also live in increasingly atomized communities where residents often live alone or with their immediate family but do not have strong connections with other community members outside of work of their close friend circles.

Co-housing can help to address affordability issues and build community. We propose a Low-Impact Affordable Cohousing Community (LILAC) of 12-16 dwellings on shared land. The land will include a community garden, and several features to encourage environmental sustainability (such as native plants for bird and wildlife habitat, Low Impact development features sure as green roofs and recycled building materials) and as little impermeable surface as possible. The land will also include a community centre where neighbourhood and community events and gatherings can take place.

In order to ensure long-lasting affordability and that housing prices do not disproportionately increase in response to market fluctuations, we propose a Mutual Home Ownership Society (MHOS) whereby the cost of the project is divided into equity shares held by members of the community.

Discuss this idea...

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david@wayblaze.com
David VS Wayblaze on 8th Nov 2017

Excellent idea, Christine. We would benefit by having co-housing developments in every region of the province. What are the key barriers to expanding the number of co-housing developments?

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Idea author Christine Mettler on 15th Nov 2017

Hi David. One of the biggest issues is cost. Since it’s co-owned, finding enough individuals who could put up the initial funds for such a project is difficult (since there would be a lag time from initial funding to completion, which means folks might have to pay a downpayment and rent while waiting for construction). Another big issue is acquiring land. Land is very expensive in Kelowna. Ideally, the co-housing community would be transit accessible and bikeable to urban centres, but that means that land would be even more at premium than peri-urban or rural areas.